Yes, as you probably expected, Transformers 5 is just as bad as the other four. Two and a half hours of robot rojak, mashed together in one set piece after another.
Did I enjoy it? Some of it here and there. The opening King Arthur sequence was exciting. You know, I would have enjoyed watching the entire King Arthur/Transformers story alone.
And the bit about Bumblebee’s WWII past was fun. But as the story builds up towards the final act, it all falls apart. By the last 30 minutes, you are wondering, WHAT KIND OF STUPID STORY IS THIS?
Since I am on an all-caps rant mode, let me share some of my peeves. And before you read on, I warn you there are some spoilers.
1. What was up with the over-sexualization of the new tween character, Izabella (Isabela Moner)? Michael Bay had her running sexily in a sexy tank top and to top it off, threw in cringeworthy come-ons from one of the boys who meet her in the first act. I understand if Michael Bay chose to objectify the previous Transformers women like Megan Fox, Rosie Alice Huntington-Whiteley and Nicola Peltz but come on, Isabela Moner is FIFTEEN.
2. The humans are mostly useless in this movie. In the end, the Autobots have to win the day. Not even Mark Wahlberg, whom I like, is given a useful role in the plot. They give you false hope when he looks like he was going to be THE CHOSEN ONE, and you wait for him to transform into some more epic, maybe a superhero human Transformer hybrid. Nope. Doesn’t happen. He mostly ends up making sure Viviane (Laura Haddock) doesn’t fall down because they need her to hold the staff (her one job). Oh, and he gets to raise a sword to rally the mythical Knights of Cybertron. Big fat whoop.
3. The super-annoying pandering and product placements for the China market. Come on, the American agencies are using Xin.com? And there was also one angmoh character listening to a music service that wasn’t Apple Music or Spotify, but some Chinese music service.
Peeves Rant over.
What saved the day was Anthony Hopkins and his butler robot, C3P0. Ok, that’s not his name, it’s Cogman, a four-feet high smart-ass Transformer who shoots missiles out of his mouth. I enjoyed their repartee and Anthony Hopkins looked like he was really having fun as the keeper of Transformer lore and secrets. I wish they had done something more with Cogman, who is a Headmaster. Nope, he remains solo in this movie, and doesn’t combine with other Headmasters. So you can park your excitement at the possibility of a Headmasters debut.
I also enjoyed seeing Bumblebee kick ass in this installment. And the introduction of the bad guys when Megatron asks for his squad to be assembled was cool: Mohawk! Dreadbot! Onslaught! Nitro! Berserker! Somewhat like an assembly of his Suicide Squad.
Seems this is the last Michael Bay foray at the Transformers franchise. Maybe we will get someone better at telling a story for the next instalment, instead of stringing together one action sequence after another. I am so tired of all the epic camera angles already. Everything is so epic when he directs. Even short little robots and tweens.
Aiyah, you are still going to watch the movie despite the one-star reviews. So go ahead, watch it. Just go in with lowered expectations and you should get through the two and a half hours. We need the movie to get new toys anyway.
It was another good WWDC 2017, this time in San Jose. A bit ulu compared to downtown San Francisco, if you ask me. But I am a city boy.
I enjoyed meeting my tech media friends again and hearing the new announcements for macOS, AppleOS, iOS and WatchOS. I even saw the famous Walt Mossberg, who is retiring from the tech journalism world.
What excited me the most?
1. The game Monument Valley 2 is out.
2. Apple Watches will have Toy Story faces.
3. The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
4. The new Apple HomePod speaker.
5. The new insane iMac Pro.
6. AR and VR coming to iOS and macOS devices.
and most of all, the iOS 11 improvements that will make iPads even closer to a laptop replacement. Drag and drop all the things!
I was going to do the video presentation myself but I will leave Kim Huat to give you the executive summary in this video because he hijacked my video production when I was in the toilet.
Me, trying to pull out the key Faith broke inside my bedroom door handle: "Darn it, my tools can't get it out."
Wife: "Here, try this pair of pliers!"
Me: "Ah good! Thanks. You know, I used to have needle-nose pliers just like these in my toolbox but I can't seem to find them."
Wife: "Oh, these are yours, from your toolbox. I er, borrowed them some time ago."
Me: ( ..•˘___˘• .. )
At one point, I even called the locksmith. Bear in mind, my iPhone was inside the locked master bedroom. So I came up with the idea of using my Apple Watch to call him.
"Siri, call Locksmith."
It worked! The Apple Watch connected to the iPhone inside the room via Bluetooth and dialed.
"Hello?" said the Locksmith, somewhat loudly.
"Is this Ah Boy? My key is broken inside the lock of my master bedroom!" I said, into the Watch.
"What kind of lock is it?" he said, impatiently, sounding like he was preoccupied with another job.
"It is the handle type of lock, you installed it for me the last time another key broke inside my old lock," I replied.
"I can't tell like that, you take a photo and send to me."
"But my phone is in the locked room, and I…" I tried to explain, but he hung up.
Magnet didn't work. Because the key wasn't made of magnetic metal. In the end, I managed to tease the broken half of the key out with surgical precision, after trying for half an hour with different tools and pliers. In the end, I teased the broken key out with two nail files.
I held the broken key in my hand and raised it high. like I just pulled out King Arthur's Excalibur from the Stone.
Small victories like this make a simple man happy. And also saving the ninety bucks that it would have cost me to get Ah Boy to come down and drill out the old lock, and replace it with a new one.
Here's a first look inside the new Singapore Apple Orchard Store. It's gorgeous. I already see stuff I wanna buy. Siao liao.
The boardroom you see in the photos is used for meetings and it's not open to the public. There are copies of the Apple book and paintings of the new Apple Park. I hope to see Apple Park some day.
The Forum space on the second floor is for Today at Apple educational sessions and experiences where you can learn stuff like photography from creators like Chia Aik Beng.
I am typing this while sitting under a tree at the Genius Grove inside the Store. Yes. Sitting under indoor ficus trees. The Genius Grove on the second floor is where you get help with your Apple products.
I brought my bigger camera, but in the end, I just shot all of these photos with my iPhone 7 Plus (PRODUCT)RED.
Interestingly, the wifi in the Apple Orchard Store recognized my previous login from the Apple Union Square Store in SF and I joined the network automatically.
I like the Forum space. I think it will be a great space for local creative people to share their work and experiences with people. Aik Beng's session was fully subscribed within ten minutes of the session booking going live online. Here is an arty-farty black and white photo of my friend Aik Beng:
The other thing I like is the abundance of space. You rarely have retail space that isn't cramped with aisles and aisles of product.
I think Orchard Road suddenly became a little more interesting.
Old Days Situation:
1. Someone cuts your lane or
2. Never gives up bus/MRT seat or
3. Behaves in a generally lao lan way.
Old Days Response:
1. Exchange some angry words or ignore it.
2. Forget about it the next minute.
3. Carry on with life.
1. Someone cuts your lane or
2. Never gives up bus/MRT seat or
3. Behaves in a generally lao lan way.
1. Exchange some angry words.
2. Get into fisticuffs.
2, Take each other’s photo with smartphone.
3. Take each other’s video with smartphone.
4. Deploy in-car cam/GoPro video footage.
5. Go home and edit all collected media into an epic 3-hour-long Steven Spielberg movie.
6. Upload the entire video with annotations to Facebook and/or YouTube.
7. Write accompanying long essay about the incident.
8. Ask for CSI.
9. CSI the wrong people.
10. Publish information of wrongly-CSI-ed people on Facebook and clickbait websites of questionable journalistic repute.
11. CSI again for the real culprit because the first CSI was wrong.
12. Make police report.
13. Invite commenters who say these people must be foreigners and that Ah Tiong/FT Indian/Chow Ang Moh are all like this and should lose job/lose business/lose employment pass/be deported.
14. Blame Gahmen for letting FT trash like these Ah Tiong/FT Indian/Chow Ang Moh in.
15. New public dispute arises, old one is forgotten.
16. Rinse and repeat.
I am home again, after a few months of continuous travel. The wife immediately deployed me to manage Faith on Sunday as she sat down with the two younger ones for exam revision.
My job was to keep Faith from getting bored, and really, there is only so much an iPod playing her favorite YouTube videos can do. You eventually need to give her a car ride and some outside air.
So I took her for her car ride, and then for a walk at nex mall. My jet-lagged mind decided that was a good idea.
On. A. Sunday. Afternoon.
Yeah, I know right?
She was fine, at first. She dragged me around to see stuff. Then at a particular corner of the mall, I think her autistic senses got overwhelmed and she decided to run into the massage chair shop and sit at the cashier counter.
"So sorry!" I said apologetically to the staff there, rushing to get her out of there.
"不用紧，慢慢来！" (Don't worry about it, take your time!) one kind lady staff said, smiling, as I tried to get Faith out of the chair and out the shop. Pulling her off the chair only made things worse, and Faith lay down on the floor, refusing to budge.
"Come, Faith, stand up. We go home, ok?" I said, trying to coax her off the floor. Then after a few tries, she listened, and got up. She took my hand, and we walked/ran to the entrance. But when she reached the line separating the shop and the common corridor, it was like she hit an invisible wall and she u-turned, making her way back to the cashier's counter.
More coaxing from me, and she finally made it past the force field, dashing away from the shop before I could say thank you to the patient and understanding ladies at the shop. Down the broken escalator we went (nex, when are you going to fix that stupid escalator that is causing a bottleneck every time???), and then out the building to the open space.
I thought we could make it all the way to the open-air car park where the car was parked, but she decided to detour to the playground. And then she sat down at the benches, as if to say, "I am so done with the sensory overload and I am going to sit here and rest."
She shook off her shoes and made herself at home.
Once more, I gave her my inspirational speech that would have moved men to tears and the downtrodden to fight for their freedom. In my most William Wallace voice, I said, "Come Faith, wear your shoes. Let's go home. The car is just around the corner."
She frowned at me, her shoes still off.
"Come Faith, wear your shoes. Let's go. The car is so near and Mommy and your siblings are waiting to go to Popo house. You like Popo's house, right?"
It took a few tries but she finally put her shoes back on, and followed me back to the car.
My friend Robert, whose son is also autistic, commented that his son teaches him every day he is not in control.
I agree with Robert. It is a profound lesson for a control freak like me. Robert went on to say of his son, "If he wants to stay put I sit next to him and stay until he decides it is OK to go."
Like Robert with his son, I have found that getting physical with Faith only makes things worse. It gets harder too, as she is now bigger and stronger.
You also learn to develop a very thick skin, because these sensory meltdown episodes happen in full view of the public very often, so you appreciate it tremendously when people show understanding and acceptance.
We are mindful of Faith's condition when we go out, but at the same time, we do not want to completely shut her away, out of this world. So we try, a little at the time, to expose her to places where there are new people, new noises, and different stimuli, in the hope that her autistic senses learn to cope and adapt.
In the process, we, her family, also learn a little more about ourselves. We learn to let go. We learn there is a new normal. We learn to cope and adapt, to change the things we can change, and to accept the things we cannot.
This has been my home for the last few days in Porto. Yes, I chose to stay in a hostel. I think I'm the oldest fella in this hostel. I came by train from Lisbon, where I attended the IFA Global Press Conference. Check out my review of the Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset that can record 360° sound, on YouTube.
I've got two power sockets to charge my myriad of tech gear, a small light and two small shelves for my knickknacks. And a big drawer below to hold my Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 carry-on and Synapse 19 daypack. I'm a happy camper.
When I find the time between walking tours and hanging out at the laundromat waiting for my clothes to be washed and dried, I'll share more stories about sleeping in a bunk bed with other folks in the same room, at my non-millennial age.
Now I'm busy sitting in the public lounge area watching Season 2 of The Expanse, one of the best science-fiction tv shoes in a while.